Welcome to NLMS Music Summer School at Downe House School

A music summer school for adult amateur players and singers, with two orchestras, choir, string group, brass ensemble and – new for 2021 – a percussion course.


The Trustees are delighted to announce the appointment of Nicola Wydenbach as Director of the Music Summer School, with immediate effect. Nicola has extensive experience of directing projects for such organisations as Music in Offices, Mind a Soul Choir, Sing to Beat Parkinson’s, C and C Housing, Skylarks, the Royal Opera House, Opera for All, Streetwise Opera, and the D’Vine Singers. She also works as a mentor with Music for Youth and is co-creator of CARVE – a collective of dance and music artists who specialise in working with people with Parkinson’s disease. Nicola is a graduate of both the University of Birmingham and Trinity College of Music, and she holds graduate and post-graduate diplomas from the Royal College of Music. On learning of her appointment, Nicola said “I am delighted to be joining NLMS and look forward to working in an organisation with over 40 years of quality music-making. I cannot wait to experience the summer school at first-hand in 2021.”Philip Meaden, Chair of the Trustee Council, said “Nicola’s breadth and depth of experience as a leader of inclusive music education programmes for adults made her stand out from a very strong field of candidates. Her musical background will be an excellent complement to those of our existing conductors and tutors, and we are excited at the prospect of working with her in the future.”


We now have dates for the next Summer School, which will take place from Saturday 7 to 14 August 2021 at Downe House School in Cold Ash, near Newbury in Berkshire, UK.

Although we had to cancel our August 2020 Summer School, Downe House School is keen that NLMS returns in 2021, and 2019 NLMS course members and tutors were very happy with their experience there.

Our approach is to capitalise where possible on the 2020 arrangements, so that the 2021 Summer School will be broadly similar to what was planned for August 2020 – including course repertoire.

NLMS has been running music summer schools for almost forty years.  The 2019 Summer School was a huge success, with excellent attendance at a superb new venue, and great music-making by all the ensembles and friendly support from our amazing team of tutors. We believe that our summer school is the premium offering in the market!

Of the 80% of people who responded to our feedback survey in 2019:

  • 100% would recommend the summer school
  • 97% planned to come again in 2020
  • 95% said the course is good or excellent value for money


Main house block

Downe House School is a girls’ boarding school and an ideal venue for our music summer school.  Music accommodation is plentiful, the residential accommodation comprises single and double rooms, all with wash basins, catering is of a very high quality, and the buildings are accessible and close together, with parking nearby.  Situated only a few miles from the M4 and A34, and from Newbury station, the school has excellent transport links. Extensive and beautiful grounds as well as a swimming pool complement the facilities available to course members.  And of course we will be setting up our usual bar!  Overall, Downe House School is a wonderful venue for enjoying friendship in music.


NLMS offers a challenging and enjoyable week of music making in a very friendly atmosphere.  Two orchestras, a choir, a brass ensemble and a string group provide a wide variety of courses to suit all abilities and interests.  New in 2021 is a percussion course.

A feature of NLMS Music Summer School is the very high ratio of tutors to participants, with a professional tutor for each instrumental and vocal section.  All courses enjoy wide-ranging and exciting repertoire.

An extensive choice of optional sessions is open to all, complementing the main courses.  In 2019 these included baroque strings, woodwind ensemble, open strings and an open choir session, and we anticipate a similar set of offerings for 2021. 

Concerts take place on many of the evenings, given both by participants and professionals.


We aim to provide enjoyment through music-making and, while we achieve high standards of performance, this is never at the expense of friendliness and good humour. I hope to see you at Downe House in August 2020 and, whether you are a regular attender or a new member, you can be assured of a warm welcome.

Steve Bingham
NLMS Music Summer School Director, 2020

Video © Rhodri Spearing


See what makes NLMS Music Summer Schools so highly regarded by participants…

“A high spot of our year. Many thanks for providing such a super musical experience.”

“This week was close to being perfect for me.”

“Not only musically helpful but friendly. I look forward to next year.”

“A wonderful week of hard, fulfilling study and practice.” 

“A very good social opportunity to meet and make new friends.”

“The venue, organisation, facilities and camaraderie have been 1st rate.”

“I had such a good time. Music-making is so exciting!”

“This course kept me smiling for weeks.”


>> Explore Downe House School

Explore the courses available, including details of repertoire…

>> Symphony Orchestra

>> Sinfonietta

>> Choir

>> Brass Ensemble

>> Percussion Group

>> String Group


Whether you are one of our many frequent returners, or thinking about coming for the first time, at NLMS Music Summer School you will enjoy a wealth of music making activities, professional tuition in an encouraging and supportive atmosphere, with excellent food, convivial social activities, beautiful surroundings and lots more besides. Applications are now open – we’re looking forward to receiving your application!

>> Apply Now!